Falling Forward

This is for Starfree's first story contest, so here goes nothing!

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Chapter 3

Tasteless Shepherd's Pie and Notions of a Dreadful Sort

Derek didn't show up to school today.

"Do you think he died of embaressment or something?" August suggests helpfully as he, Eli, Blair, and I gather around the lunch table discussing our friend's absence.

"Oh, absolutely!" I declare. Insert eye roll here. "But on the off-chance that this isn't the case, Blair: tell me again, when was the last time you talked to him?"

"On the phone this morning before school." Blair looks troubled. "We were talking on the phone and he said he was waiting at his bus stop alone, and the bus would be there in a few minutes. Have any of you heard from him since?" She glances at Eli, who is sneezing like crazy.

"Don't look at me!" he protests. "I wasn't involved! And I couldn't join you where the fun was when it comes down to a gerbil-"

"Ferret," I correct him.

"When it comes down to a ferrett adoption!"

"Whatever." Blair shrugs. "He'll be back tomorrow, and that's what matters."

We continue to eat in silence. I pick at my shepgerd's pie, still steaming from the thermos I brought it from home in. Though it was made with Aunt Patricia's special touch, all the flavor had suddenly disappeared. Because I love my friends and August so much, it always makes me feel empty when they're gone.

But this is different. It isn't just a sense of loneliness; it's also a sense of unwavering dread. I know my life is about to be changed, probably for the worse. Try as I might, I can't shake that feeling that something is coming, coming fast.

And the ground is about to collapse beneath my feet.

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